Can scientists and evangelicals get along?
Richard Cizik is the former Vice President for Governmental Affairs of the National Association of Evangelicals (NAE) and one of the most prominent Evangelical lobbyists in the United States. In his position with the NAE, Cizik's primary responsibilities were setting the organization's policy on issues and lobbying the White House, Congress, and the Supreme Court. Cizik also served as NAE's national spokesman and edited a monthly magazine, NAE Washington Insight. Since 2003, Cizik has been active in a type of environmentalism he calls "creation care"; his stance on global warming has drawn both support and criticism from fellow Evangelicals.
In 2007, he and Nobel Prize winner Eric Chivian, as a team, were named one of the 100 most influential scientists and thinkers by Time. On December 11, 2008, Cizik gave his resignation from his position with NAE after a December 2 radio broadcast of NPR's Fresh Air in which he voiced support for same-sex civil unions. His comments and his resignation has generated both strong support and strong criticism within the evangelical Christian community.
Question: Does politics shape the evangelical debate on climate change?
Richard Cizik: Because there is a concept, even a biblical concept, called co-belligerency; that you can be a cobelligerent with our erstwhile enemies. For example, even on population control or abortion issues, there are people who oppose us on those issues. And yet it’s possible, you see, to be a co-belligerent with them on something else without compromising our integrity. My . . . my integrity is not compromised because I’ve shown that I am both a pro-lifer opposed to abortion. I even have opposed historically population control movements. And so that doesn’t change the fact that I can at the same time say over here they are right. Look, we can walk and chew gum at the same time. Really. I mean evangelicals can make these distinctions. We’ve done it for decades. For example, on the religious persecution movement for example, we’ve collaborated with those who oppose us on abortion to save babies from being burned in bonfires in Darfur. In other words, we’ve collaborated with people who oppose us on the sanctity of human life, on the definition of marriage to work together to save lives against persecution or genocide. We do that and have done that successfully with eight, nine, 10 major bills before Congress. So we can do this. It’s not impossible. It’s just those who really don’t want to do this that raise that as a bogyman.
Recorded on: 6/25/07
Evangelicals have collaborated with people who differ on issues before, and that sort of tolerance is needed now.
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